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Sparse genetic tracing reveals regionally specific functional organization of mammalian nociceptors.

eLife | Oct 12, 2017

The human distal limbs have a high spatial acuity for noxious stimuli but a low density of pain-sensing neurites. To elucidate mechanisms underlying regional differences in processing nociception, we sparsely traced non-peptidergic nociceptors across the body using a newly generated MrgprdCreERT2 mouse line. We found that mouse plantar paw skin is also innervated by a low density of Mrgprd+ nociceptors, while individual arbors in different locations are comparable in size. Surprisingly, the central arbors of plantar paw and trunk innervating nociceptors have distinct morphologies in the spinal cord. This regional difference is well correlated with a heightened signal transmission for plantar paw circuits, as revealed by both spinal cord slice recordings and behavior assays. Taken together, our results elucidate a novel somatotopic functional organization of the mammalian pain system and suggest that regional central arbor structure could facilitate the "enlarged representation" of plantar paw regions in the CNS.

Pubmed ID: 29022879 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Anatomy, Regional | Animals | Mice | Nociception | Nociceptors | Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled | Skin

Data used in this publication

None found

Associated grants

  • Agency: NINDS NIH HHS, Id: F31 NS092297
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: K12 GM081259
  • Agency: NINDS NIH HHS, Id: R01 NS083702
  • Agency: NINDS NIH HHS, Id: R01 NS094224

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